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Most of us live harried, hurried lives. There is more to do in one day than we can accomplish. We tend to lose ourselves in the tasks that are before us. 

When things don’t go our way, we may lose our perspective. Like the headlights of a vehicle that becomes clouded from driving through all types of weather, our focus becomes dimmed by disappointments, failures, and the continued onslaught of daily living. 

Parenting fits this description. It doesn’t matter how many other demands that tug and pull, the need to pay attention and be fully present to young children is constant regardless of whether you have the energy or not. 

Addicts in recovery are like entrepreneurs trying to build something new. They need a compass that will guide them through the morass of multiple distractions that tug and pull them away from their center.

Here is a list of guidelines that act as a compass in the quagmire of stress and interference that impacts everyday living:

1. Make the darkness conscious. There is an old Sufi story that supports this Jungian thought. There was a thirsty man who followed a muddy stream to its source that took him into a cave. He took a light with him and followed the stream to its source where the water was pure and clean. When you are stuck in the mud of trouble, carry the light of your spirit into the darkness, don’t avoid or attempt to run from it. You must stay the course until your perspective is clear. The experience of life will blur your vision. You must clean the glasses of your perspective. It is a lifelong perspective that never ends. During your day, when feeling troubled, stop and breathe and gradually light your way.

2. Keep your eye on the Horizon. Many years ago my wife and I celebrated our honeymoon by going on a deep-sea fishing expedition. We were many miles away from land and of course, many fishermen got sick and began vomiting off the back of the boat. The captain announced that if you felt sick that the idea was to focus on the horizon and it would help settle your stomach. I was busy scurrying around, baiting my hook, and concentrating on fishing. I never got seasick. I have found this memory helpful when stressed by the demands of daily living. When you are overwhelmed with the challenge of compelling goals and a demanding schedule keep your eye on the horizon. Life is like water that passes through the gills of a fish. Make meaningfulness of what life is as it passes through your experience. Of course, you will not be able to eliminate hunger but you can practice feeding each other in community. You won’t be able to eliminate another’s pain but you can practice compassion. You won’t be able to stamp out loneliness but you will be able to hold another and have them hold you. Keeping your eyes on the horizon will cultivate perspective and create meaningfulness to your life.

3. When your heart or dreams are broken, open your heart and find meaningfulness right where you are. When you are stripped bare of calculated resources, you will discover that everything you could need or ask for is all around you in flawed abundance. Gratitude will take what is and make it more as you work through your heartache. Accept the resource of love that is around you rather than trying to shape your life into what you thought it should have been. Accept love where you can find it. It will take you where you need to be. Swim with the stream and you will learn to be the stream. It will always take you to a place of healing and meaningfulness.

4. Don’t forget that life experience is meant to be a medicine wheel, a mirror of reflection. The medicine wheel is for healing. It embodies the Four Directions, as well as Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree—all of which symbolize dimensions of health and the cycles of life. It is important to know that we meet ourselves in everything we confront. Take time to contemplate your life experience in who you meet, where you go, and how life unfolds. You will find yourself in all of these experiences. Listen to others’ description of the same experience you know. Then take time to discover their experience in you. The thing that brings discomfort about others is the thing you will find in yourself if you take time to notice. Avoid harsh judgment. You will lose sight of the mirror if you judge yourself harshly. Learn from your feelings and your reactions to all of life around you.

5. Don’t lose sight that there is no day, no hour, no time that you are required to do more than you can do in peace. You might be thinking, “Are you kidding me? I am frantically doing everything I possibly can to make this deadline!” Yet, this statement stands as a buoy for perspective. In the grand scheme of things, this declaration has been true throughout my life. It has anchored peace and harmony in the face of chaos and harried living. No matter how important I thought something was that needed to be done, ultimately this truth grounded meaningfulness and promoted poise and perspective. 

Harried/hurried living is a real test to recovery throughout the life span. When you succumb and lose yourself in the dense forest of life’s demands, take time to consider these important guideposts that will help you re-center and anchor yourself to your values.